In Sewing: What Is Interfacing?

Have you ever wondered how professional sewists achieve crisp, structured garments or maintain the delicate drape of sheer fabrics? The secret lies in the use of interfacing. Interfacing is a versatile material that is essential in the art of sewing. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what interfacing is, the different types available, how to choose the right interfacing for your project, and provide step-by-step instructions for applying it properly. So, grab your sewing machine and let's get started!

What is interfacing?

Interfacing is a material that is used to give shape, support, and stability to fabric in sewing projects. It is typically a lightweight fabric or non-woven material that is applied to the wrong side of the fabric to add structure and help maintain the shape of the garment or project.

Definition and purpose of interfacing in sewing

The primary purpose of interfacing is to reinforce and stabilize specific areas of the fabric to prevent stretching, sagging, or distortion. It can be used to add body to collars, cuffs, waistbands, and pocket openings, as well as to strengthen seams and hems.

Types of interfacing

There are several types of interfacing available, each with its own unique characteristics and uses. Let's take a closer look:

Fusible interfacing

Fusible interfacing, also known as iron-on interfacing, has a layer of adhesive on one side that bonds to the fabric when heat is applied. It is the most commonly used type of interfacing due to its ease of application. Fusible interfacing comes in various weights and can be used with a wide range of fabrics.

Sew-in interfacing

Sew-in interfacing, as the name suggests, is sewn onto the fabric rather than fused. It provides a more flexible and stable finish and is ideal for fabrics that cannot tolerate high heat. Sew-in interfacing is often used in tailored garments or projects that require a softer, more natural look.

Non-woven interfacing

Non-woven interfacing is made from fibers that are bonded together rather than woven. It is a lightweight and flexible option that is commonly used with lightweight fabrics. Non-woven interfacing is easy to sew and provides stability without adding bulk.

Choosing the right interfacing

Choosing the right interfacing is crucial to the success of your sewing project. Here are a couple of factors to consider when selecting the appropriate interfacing:

Consideration of fabric weight and drape

The weight and drape of the fabric will dictate the type of interfacing you should use. For lightweight fabrics, such as chiffon or silk, choose a lightweight or sheer fusible interfacing to maintain the delicate drape. Heavier fabrics, like denim or wool, require a sturdier interfacing to provide the necessary structure and support.

Considering garment structure and design

Take into account the design and structure of the garment or project you are working on. If you are making a tailored blazer or coat, opt for a medium to heavy-weight sew-in interfacing to give the collar and lapels the desired shape and structure. For projects like bags or purses that require stability, consider using a heavyweight fusible interfacing.

Application of interfacing

Now that you have chosen the perfect interfacing for your project, it's time to learn how to apply it correctly. Let's go through the application process step-by-step:

Step-by-step instructions for applying fusible interfacing

1. Prepare the fabric: Before applying the interfacing, pre-wash and press the fabric to remove any wrinkles or shrinkage. Cut out all the pattern pieces required for your project.

2. Cutting the interfacing: Lay the interfacing on your cutting mat with the adhesive side facing down. Place the pattern pieces on top of the interfacing and carefully cut around them, leaving a small seam allowance.

3. Positioning and attaching the interfacing: Place the cut interfacing pieces on the wrong side of the fabric, aligning them with the corresponding pattern pieces. Pin or baste the interfacing in place to prevent shifting.

4. Pressing the interfacing: Set your iron to the appropriate temperature for the fabric and interfacing. Place a press cloth on top of the fabric to protect it. Press firmly and evenly over each area, holding the iron in place for the recommended time specified by the interfacing manufacturer.

Step-by-step instructions for attaching sew-in interfacing

1. Basting the interfacing to the fabric: Position the sew-in interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric, aligning it with the pattern piece. Baste the interfacing in place using a hand-sewing needle and thread or a long basting stitch on your sewing machine.

2. Stitching the interfacing to the fabric: Sew along the edges of the interfacing, following the seam allowance indicated in the pattern. Use a regular stitch length and backstitch at the beginning and end to secure the stitches.

3. Trimming and finishing the seams: Trim any excess interfacing close to the stitching line. Finish the seams as desired, either by serging, zigzag stitching, or pinking.

Common mistakes to avoid when interfacing

While interfacing is a relatively simple technique, there are some common mistakes that can lead to less-than-desirable results. Here are a few pitfalls to watch out for:

Using the wrong type of interfacing for the fabric

Using an inappropriate type of interfacing for your fabric can result in a stiff or distorted finish. Make sure to choose a compatible interfacing that complements the weight, drape, and structure of your fabric.

Not pre-shrinking the interfacing

Some interfacing materials, especially fusible types, may shrink or warp when exposed to heat during the application process. To prevent this, it is essential to pre-shrink your interfacing by following the manufacturer's instructions.

Applying too much heat during fusing

Applying excessive heat or holding the iron in one place for too long can cause the adhesive on fusible interfacing to melt or seep through the fabric, resulting in unsightly stains or damage. Always follow the recommended heat settings and pressing times indicated on the interfacing packaging.

Advanced interfacing techniques

Interfacing for structured garments

For garments that require extra structure and support, such as tailored blazers or coats, you can use multiple layers of interfacing. Simply stack two or more layers of the appropriate interfacing and apply them following the same steps as with a single layer.

Using interfacing for tailored collars and cuffs

Tailored collars and cuffs benefit from the use of interfacing to maintain their shape. Apply a layer of fusible interfacing to the collar and cuff pieces before attaching them to the garment. This will ensure a professional-looking finish.

Interfacing for sheer and delicate fabrics

Sheer and delicate fabrics require special attention when it comes to interfacing. To maintain the lightweight and fluid drape of these fabrics, opt for a lightweight or sheer fusible interfacing. This type of interfacing provides stability without adding bulk or stiffness.

Using self-adhesive interfacing for easy application

If you prefer a fuss-free application process, consider using self-adhesive interfacing. This type of interfacing comes with a peel-off backing that allows you to simply stick it onto your fabric. It is ideal for quick projects or if you are new to sewing.

Interfacing for specialty projects

Interfacing is not limited to garment construction. It can also be used in a variety of specialty projects. Here are a couple of examples:

Interfacing for bags and purses

Bags and purses often require added stability to hold their shape and withstand daily use. Choose a heavyweight fusible interfacing and apply it to the exterior fabric pieces before sewing them together. This will give your bag a professional and durable finish.

Interfacing for quilted projects

Quilted projects, such as pot holders or table runners, can benefit from the use of fusible fleece interfacing. This type of interfacing adds an extra layer of insulation and softness to the fabric, making your project both stylish and functional.

Tips and tricks for successful interfacing

Testing interfacing on scrap fabric

Before applying interfacing to your main fabric, it's always a good idea to test it on a scrap piece of the same fabric. This will give you an opportunity to see how the interfacing interacts with your fabric and make any necessary adjustments before committing to the final project.

Trimming excess interfacing for a clean finish

Once the interfacing is applied, trim any excess that extends beyond the seam allowance. This will reduce bulk and give your finished project a neat and professional look.

Using interfacing to stabilize and prevent stretching

If you are working with stretchy or delicate fabrics that tend to stretch out of shape, interfacing can be a valuable tool. Apply interfacing to the edges or seams of the fabric to stabilize and prevent stretching during the construction process.


Interfacing is a crucial component in sewing that allows you to achieve professional-looking results. Understanding the different types of interfacing available, choosing the right one for your fabric and project, and applying it properly will elevate your sewing skills to the next level. So, sharpen your scissors, heat up your iron, and experiment with interfacing in your next sewing project. We guarantee you'll be amazed at the difference it makes!

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